Judith Aaen

Judith Aaen in "Concierto de Aranjuez"

Judith Aaen in “Concierto de Aranjuez” choreographed by Manolo Varga

Judith Aaen is a seventh generation Californian and great-great granddaughter of Captain C.C. Keene, beloved Captain of the historic San Francisco Hussars. Judith began her training with Eva Lorraine in Pasadena performing with the California Children’s Ballet later known as The Los Angeles Festival Ballet. She continued her instruction studying with Madame Bronislava Nijinska, Paul MaureMichel Panaieff, Andrei Tremaine, Irina Kosmovska, George Balanchine, Valentina Peryaslavic, Alfredo Corvino, Eugene Tanner and Michael Lland. At 17 she was offered an apprenticeship to the Royal Ballet School by John Hart.

When George Balanchine founded the Ballet of Los Angeles, he selected her to dance Serenade in the Greek Theatre along with the New York City Ballet. The next year she danced Balanchine’s Swan Lake and Firebird in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Music Center. Two summers later she appeared on the “Judy Garland Show” performing Balanchine’s Pas de Dix from Raymonda at the Greek Theatre. She was also chosen and coached by Anton Dolin to portray Carlotta Grisi in his Pas de Quatre.

Judith was principal ballerina with Andrei Tremaine’s Pacific Ballet Theatre. She toured the United States dancing principal roles and performing with Vladimir Oukhtomsky in his Oukhtomsky Ballet Classique. She also performed with Michael Panaieff’s Los Angeles City Ballet in a varied repertoire including Panaieff’s own Glinka pas de trios. Upon ending her U.S. tour, she was invited to join Sergei Denham’s Ballet de Monte Carlo, formerly known as the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo on their European tour. She danced principal roles in the Ballet de Monte Carlo’s production of Ballet Imperial, Pas de Quatre and with Lorca Massine in his ballet Sienna. After performing in Madrid, Judith was invited to attend a reception for Joaquin Rodrigo, having the honor of being introduced to the legendary Spanish composer best remembered for his masterpiece “Concierto de Aranjuez.”

When she returned from Europe, Judith became Prima Ballerina of the Houston Ballet working with choreographers William Dollar, John Taras, Job Sanders, James Clouser and Manolo Vargas. Her repertoire included Le Combat, Flower Festival at Genzano, Nutcracker Pas de Deux, Tchaikovsky Pas de DeuxRaymonda Variations, Pas de Dix, Paquita and Concierto de Aranjuez.

Judith was guest star with Michel Panaieff’s Los Angeles Ballet performing Nutcracker Pas de Deux in the Las Vegas Convention Center with the Las Vegas Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed as a guest artist with Pacific Ballet Theatre, Ballet des Arts, Nevada Dance Theatre (now known as Nevada Ballet Theatre), Ballet Pacifica, Dance Theatre of Orange County, the Rio Grande Civic Ballet, the Riverside Civic Ballet and the Ukrainian Dance Ensemble.

Judith Aaen Studio Portrait

Judith Aaen Studio Portrait taken November 1977

Judith produced and choreographed the Miss Saddleback Valley Pageant, a preliminary to the Miss America Pageant, presented in California’s Laguna Beach Irvine Bowl. The winner of this pageant became Miss California. The Miss California board of directors presented Judith with a certificate of appreciation in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the success of the Miss California Scholarship Pageant.

Before moving to the East coast, she opened her studio, The Judith Aaen Academy of Dance in Mission Viejo, California. Her students received scholarships and were accepted to the American Ballet Theatre School, School of American Ballet, the Joffrey School, the Houston Ballet Academy, San Francisco Ballet School, Boston Ballet School, Milwaukee Ballet School, Ballet West and Dance Theatre of Nevada. Two of her students also appeared in the movie “Six Weeks.”

Judith taught Master Classes instructing the disciplines of ballet technique, performance and choreography for various dance organizations including Dance Masters of America, Dance Educators of America and toured nationally with Dance Caravan. She was invited by Jacques d’Amboise, renowned star of the New York City Ballet, teacher and choreographer to instruct at his National Dance Institute in New York City.

Judith was awarded a certificate of honor from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts in recognition of her success as a teacher and significant influence of her students’ exceptional artistic achievements.

She is noted in the Walter Terry Papers in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Jerome Robbins Dance Division and contributed and appeared in the recent Houston Ballet documentary, “Breaking Boundaries.”

Judith married Robert B. Nelson, a Fortune 500 management consultant, in 1981. They have one daughter, Nicole Elyse Nelson.

Judith Aaen demonstrates what balletic wonders taste, skill and quiet confidence can accomplish. In both the Snow and Konfituerenburg pas de deux, Miss Aaen proves mistress of crisp pirouettes, extended balances and stylish musicality. – Lewis Segal, Los Angeles Times

Miss Aaen brought to “Combat” the polished technique, tremendous strength and total control that is the mark of a great dancer. ln “Paquita” she again worked exceptionally with her crisp fouettes. – Beverly Katz, Santa Fe New Mexican

Judith Aaen is a star in her own right. Miss Aaen is a meticulous performer of high technical accomplishments combined with the seemingly effortless grace that makes her dancing such a joy to behold. – Adger Brown, The State

Further Reading:

Judith Aaen’s Official Website: judithaaen.com


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